Exhibition Runs: June 5 – July 24, 2020
Virtual Reception & Artist Talks: Thursday, June 18 @ 5:30pm

SURFACE: Emerging Artists of New Mexico is an annual juried exhibition, endowed awards and professional development program presented by Harwood Art Center, to support the creative and professional growth of emerging artists and to expand their visibility and viability in our community. We have received hundreds of noteworthy submissions over the eight application cycles to-date; as of this year, the program has served 96 exceptionally talented, committed artists, including the 7 accepted for 2020.


SURFACE 2020 artists are: Robyn A. Frank, Celine Gordon, Nate Lemuel, MB Ramos, George Richardson, Amy Vensel, and Mark Weaver

Exhibition Reception & Artist Talks

The Opening Reception is one of the prized components of an exhibition for our artists – as well as for our whole Harwood community who gets to come meet, speak, and celebrate. As we cannot presently install in our physical galleries or have an in-person gathering, we will hold a virtual reception to honor the artists. 

Building off of our platforms and recent online gatherings, we will hold a public reception and “lightning” artist talks featuring this year’s group of SURFACE: Emerging Artists of NM artists and Dante Betsch (our 2019 solo exhibition award winner). Far-reaching friends and family can join us in these online spaces, along with local community that would come to the reception. 

Virtual Reception + Artist Talks:
Thursday, June 18 at 5:30pm



Organizational Context & Approach

On March 13, in accordance with public health emergency orders, we announced Harwood’s building closure, ceased all in-person gatherings, deployed staff to work from home, and began pivoting our programs to continue mission-driven service to the 10,000 New Mexicans we engage each year. In this transition, we have made fundamental shifts in the content, strategies, and financial models we’ve refined over 29 years of rootedness in our public, physical, arts center, and we’ve shaped, tested and rolled out an array of new distance arts and exhibition engagements, and have many more to come.

As we contemplated how to adjust SURFACE, for a time when we cannot plan physical convenings (such as exhibitions or opening receptions in our galleries, which have been cornerstones of this program), we’ve explored countless ideas, and we’ve sketched out a revised framework that we believe upholds the core value(s) of the program and adapts best to the upsidedown of now.

Digital Program Adaptations

As we cannot presently install in our public physical galleries, we’ve put together an online exhibition and comprehensive digital catalog for the exhibition.

Surface Professional Development Workshop & Alumni Circle Reception

These are the heartbeats of the SURFACE program, and they will take place in digital classroom spaces. We have an amazing network of program alumni and panelists who have served in the workshop in years past, and we will work with them to adapt content and dialogue with the recognition that there are not yet experts and best practices for this current landscape, that we are treating SURFACE as a collaborative laboratory to experiment and explore them, and that we can all benefit from a circle of support and camaraderie.

Surface Awards

Previously, artists juried into the exhibition became eligible to win endowed cash awards; in 2020, we are including a smaller total number of artists, converting existing award funds and combining with existing program support from the City of Albuquerque’s Urban Enhancement Trust Fund, to provide microgrant awards ($250) to each participant. These microgrants will support each participant in acquisition of new tools, trainings, or subscriptions that could facilitate visibility and viability in this era of distance. We will also and still select one artist as the Solo Exhibition Award recipient.

SURFACE: Emerging Artists of New Mexico Digital Exhibition

Robyn A. Frank

Artist Statement

Robyn A. Frank’s work is a celebration of self-expansion. It externalizes the permeable boundaries of our interior sense-of-self through a visual language of celestial shapes and colors. An exploration of change — the cyclical duality of creation and loss — the compositions create an intangible space where past, present, and future assemblages of our self culminate in a soft expanse of possibility. Using allegory, reoccurring symbols include the circle, resembling a sun or moon, the self, a path that is forever becoming; the wavy line, an energetic manifestation of emotions and emotionality, evoking uncertainty and discovery contained within each moment; the rectangle within a rectangle as the ego or self-narrative that exists within a larger societal narrative. Drawing further inspiration from New Mexico’s big sky, varied hues, and cloud shapes relate to the activity of transition, both emotional and physical; a stage of vast possibility.   

About Robyn

Robyn A. Frank received her BFA in Printmaking from Pratt Institute. Formerly a professional fine art fabricator, Frank made work for world-renowned artists including Takashi Murakami, Y.Z. Kami, and Dennis McNett. In response to slowing work after the financial collapse of 2008, Frank began a career in business administration, eventually becoming the People Operations Director at the global product design agency, AREA 17. After many visits to New Mexico, she relocated to Albuquerque at the start of 2019 to reconnect with her roots as a visual artist, and to begin a career as a professional artist. Her work is a celebration of change and creating space for the person you seek to become.


Celine Gordon

Artist Statement

Celine’s work takes a close look at the rhythms, connections, and patterns found in nature. Through close observation of elements of the desert landscape and processed based drawing, she sets up rules to create the drawing before she begins and doesn’t know what the final piece will look like until it is complete. The act of creating the drawing then becomes a meditation and discovery, revealing the universal fractal structures inherent in the natural world. The final compositions diagram the growth and movement of their real-world counterpart.

About Celine

Celine Gordon is an artist and graphic designer from and based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She graduated from Barnard College in New York City with a B.A. in Art History and Architecture. Celine has worked as an intern at 516 ARTS and the Albuquerque Museum of Art & History, and designed books for artists and architects. She explores many different mediums, including drawing, printmaking, and digital art.



Nate Lemuel

Artist Statement

In this collection of photographs, Nate has taken photographs of many indigenous artists in nature to their own space. These photographs tell many stories on their when viewing and give a strong presentation of creativity and tradition in each environment.

About Nate

Nate Lemuel is an Indigenous Queer Photographer based out of Shiprock, New Mexico. His works of art created mostly outdoors and involve all environmental elements surrounding his photographs. His work is presented in the form of colors that exude emotion and beauty.  Inspired by fashion, textiles, and other indigenous artists, he created Darklisted Photography in 2015 when he photographed at local music shows on the reservation. Since then, his work has been recognized by many media outlets. He has collaborated in many events and projects from music, fashion, and television.


MB Ramos

Artist Statement

MB Ramos uses a broad variety of materials and techniques to continuously inform and evolve her work. Her recent work explores belonging and the transformational navigation toward home. Beginning with materials and processes that hold meaning, she chooses forms and objects in relation to the body. Inspired by the natural world, and our place in it, Ramos knits ocean stones together with fine silver and twines memories and dreams to build connecting points as if deciphering an ancient map.
Guided by the storied process which emerges, she forges connections contained within traditional tools and materials and a conversation is sparked between the maker, material, and process. Through her work she asks – What draws us and guides us? What do we align with? Where do we go from here?

About MB

MB Ramos was born in Nantucket, Massachusetts. She grew up surrounded and supported by the wild beauty of the island and the Atlantic Ocean. In that community, where people still practice the historical crafts and trades of maritime New England, she gravitated towards exploring the materials and techniques used by them. Ramos spent her working life becoming versed in traditional crafts and jewelry making before she returned to college at the University of New Mexico, where she earned her BFA in Art Studio. After raising a family, she has returned to her lifelong engagement in the practices of making, and her recent work is informed by her history and skills.



George Richardson

Artist Statement

George’s art practice is grounded in perception and the pursuit for truth. He is interested in architecture and how we relate to and inhabit constructed spaces. George’s work engages this intersection of the man-made and natural worlds and investigates spaces in states of flux.

This body of work, called Floats, is made from trash and commercial fishing materials sourced from the Mississippi river in New Orleans. The work is a meditation on our collective humanity, our habits, economic motivations, and hidden desires. The intent is for the viewer to become acutely aware of the imbued histories of liminal spaces and the tenuousness of humanity’s post-industrial landscape, its façade of sturdiness and grounded construction. George aspires to convey this psychology of place and how we the experience the fragility of the world.

About George

George Richardson is an interdisciplinary artist based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A graduate of the University of New Mexico’s photography program (BFA + BA), George’s practice is grounded in photographic-based media and two-dimensional image-making occasionally incorporating elements of writing, painting & drawing, sculpture, and video. Born into a family of city planners, his multi-disciplinary practice addresses human perception of place and the subconscious, and how we relate to and understand the spaces we inhabit. Increasingly George has taken interest in public interventions as well as installations in non-gallery spaces.

George has exhibited regionally and nationally. Previous residency experience includes a six-week self-directed residence in Puebla, México at Arquetopia during the summer of 2016. He was a 2017 finalist for the Platform Fund Grant through the Andy Warhol Foundation. George maintains a studio practice in Albuquerque where he works in film and television.


Amy Vensel

Artist Statement

Amy Vensel’s painting process has evolved over time into a system of invented rules, peculiar logic and brief interludes of freedom. When faced with a blank canvas she defines strict compositional parameters with tape. Some sections of the surface are earmarked for experimentation. Others are reserved for space in which she reacts to previous uncontrolled marks in order to create a visual relationship.

Employing custom-made tools similar to concrete trowels Vensel methodically builds up layers of acrylic polymer and pigment to create a variety of surfaces – from smooth lustrous planes that echo the backlit screens of today’s digital landscape, to thick, hazy films that obscure the painting’s history. Even though she follows a set of self-imposed rules in an attempt at controlling a painting’s outcome, ultimately the results of her efforts are driven by chance.

About Amy

Amy Vensel is an American painter based in Las Cruces, NM. Her meticulous process involves the layering of acrylic polymer and pigment to create luminous paintings that echo the backlit screens of today’s digital landscape. Vensel’s work has been exhibited at the New Britain Museum of American Art (Connecticut), the Mattatuck Museum (Connecticut), PARK (Netherlands), Trestle Gallery (New York), ESXLA (California), and The Painting Center (New York).

Vensel is a graduate of Syracuse University and studied at the Silvermine School of Art. She has been awarded residencies at the Millay Colony for the Arts and the Vermont Studio Center, and is the recipient of an Artist Resource Trust Fund grant and a Lancaster Museum Foundation Award. Vensel’s work has appeared in The New York Times, been reviewed in Art New England, and is included in the book, “PARK 2016-2018,” published by The Platform for Visual Arts, the Netherlands.


Mark Weaver

Artist Statement

Mark Weaver’s work with woodblock prints, while completely two-dimensional, is fundamentally sculptural in nature. It is the sculptural qualities of hand-printed woodcuts which have captivated him since studying graphic design while working on a degree in architecture. Whether developing representational or completely abstract themes, Mark’s bold images reveal his focus on mass, void, texture and edge, emphasized by the striking black-and-white palette. The physicality of the wood medium is highlighted by his employment of strong tactile qualities, often resulting from his use of scavenged and used wood pieces. The images command attention, seeming not so much like pictures but more like physical objects.

About Mark

Albuquerque native Mark Weaver studied block printing and graphic design in the 1970s at Washington University in St Louis, while earning a degree in architecture. He has continued to make woodcuts in his home studio in the intervening years, although no pieces were exhibited (other than in friend’s homes) until 2018 when he was invited to participate in a show at Inpost Artspace in which two of his prints were included. In 2019 Mark’s print titled “Newk ‘em” (2019) was selected to hang in the permanent collection at Outpost Performance Space, and two of his prints were included in the 2020 “People’s Art Show” at Factory 5G Gallery.


Digital Exhibition Catalog 

Recorded Artist Talks